January 20, 2022

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What the world learned on Coursera in 2021

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Most popular courses and projects show an increased interest in skills for entry-level digital jobs

By Betty Vandenbosch, Chief Content Officer, Coursera 

Each year, we take a moment to reflect back on global content trends on Coursera. The most popular courses and Guided Projects of 2021 illustrate a year of continued personal and professional growth, even as challenges persisted around the world. 

Top courses teach entry-level digital job skills  

While perennial favorites including The Science of Well-Being (Yale), First Step Korean (Yonsei University), Machine Learning (Stanford), and English for Career Development (University of Pennsylvania) made the list again this year, courses tied to entry-level Professional Certificates also made the list.

Designed to help learners of all backgrounds prepare for an entry-level digital job in a growing field, entry-level Professional Certificates don’t require a degree or prior technical experience. Google’s Foundations: Data, Data, Everywhere, Foundations of Project Management, Technical Support Fundamentals, and Foundations of User Experience (UX) Design were all top courses.  They are part of the Data Analytics, Project Management, IT Support, and UX Design certificates, respectively. 

This year, we also saw more women learners around the world enroll in entry-level certificates and STEM content compared to pre-pandemic years. This promising trend emerges at a moment when women have been disproportionately affected by unemployment. It is heartening to see strong growth in women enrollments in content that will help them prepare for in-demand digital careers. We remain committed to expanding gender equity in online learning. 

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Learners flock to trending digital marketing tools 

Last year, we launched Guided Projects and they quickly became a popular way to learn new skills. Each project takes two hours or less to complete and incorporates hands-on learning through a virtual machine—no need to download tools or navigate software configuration. 

In 2021, learners turned to beginner-level projects focused on digital marketing tools, including Google Analytics, WordPress, and Canva. As organizations increase investments in digital channels, entry- and mid-level digital marketing jobs are projected to grow in the coming years. Guided Projects are an efficient way to develop role-specific skills, be that web development or business analytics.

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Guided Project Duration & Level
1. Google Ads for Beginners 2 hours, beginner
2. Build a Full Website using WordPress 2 hours, advanced
3. Business Analysis & Process Management 2 hours, beginner
4. Getting Started in Google Analytics 1 hour, beginner 
5. Use Canva to Create Social Media Visuals for Business 2 hours, beginner
6. Introduction to Basic Game Development using Scratch 2 hours, beginner
7. Create a Website Using WordPress: Free Hosting & Sub-domain 2 hours, beginner
8. Create a Resume and Cover Letter with Google Docs 2 hours, beginner
9. Building a Business Presence With Facebook Marketing 1.5 hours, beginner
10. Develop a Company Website with Wix 2 hours, beginner

We are grateful for our committed educator partners who play a critical role in helping learners around the world reach their full potential. In 2021, we added more than 20 new university and industry partners, including Dartmouth College, Howard University, Queen Mary University of London, Khalifa University, Jordan University of Science & Technology, Oracle, and Microsoft. This coming year, we look forward to working together to make online learning even more effective and equitable through new content and tools. 

Eager to kickstart your 2022 learning? Check out Coursera Plus, an all-inclusive subscription for unlimited access to 3,000 courses, projects, and certificate programs. 

* Top courses and Guided Projects calculated based on total enrollments from January 1, 2021 to November 30, 2021

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